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Baxter 1 Lauren Baxter Moriann Barker Anthropology 101 sec 6 12 December 2013 World count: 3,004 The Human

Experience The world is full of diverse cultures and peoples. In every country and region of the world there is a wide span of traditions, beliefs, and values. Religious and social customs differ in many ways. While many differences exist in the human experience, there also many commonalities. Ideas changing, finding truth, adapting to circumstances, and the interweaving of lives are all commonalities in the human experience because humans live in the same environment. Universal differences in the human experiences include differing social expectations, family obligations, definitions of beauty, and transitions in life because individual experiences have contributed to thoughts and behaviors. Commonalities are more significant than differences because understanding similarities between peoples can help to reduce the significance of differences thus uniting peoples and promoting peace. Human ideas changing over time is one aspect that is universal to the human experience. People everywhere hold ideas close to them; human beings are deeply invested and deeply in love with their ideas. (Chapter 3) Ideas are the basis of the human world (Chapter 8). We access the natural, or tangible, world through the ideas we have about the nature of things, ideas about morality, and ideas about what the world is really like (Chapter 8). Ideas are the basis for all thoughts and beliefs that govern behavior and action. It is clear that human beings are primarily guided not by instinct but by learned ideas (Chapter 3). It is important not to

Baxter 2 underestimate the power of ideasfor everything in our lives is weighed, measured, and judged against our ideas (Chapter 3). It is also important to understand that peoples ideas about the world are not static but always capable of modification (Chapter 3). Ideas change over time as time, place, and experience also change. In the film Young and Restless in China, a young man involved in rapping, had come to believe that all girls just wanted money, not love as he had previously thought. An experience in his life had lead him to believe that women were not interested in marrying for love, but only money. While using an online dating website, he came across a young woman who he was very interested in. They arranged to meet, but the woman told him she did not have any money. The rapper, anxious to meet the woman, offered to pay for her travel expenses. However, the young woman never came and the rapper lost his money (Young and Restless in China). This experience changed the young mans beliefs about women. The fact is that though we human beings must have ideas in our minds that we hold true, we can toss out those ideas anytime so long as we have other ideas to place in their stead (Chapter 3). This is what occurred in the case of the young rapper. His idea that women wanted love was tossed out and replaced with the idea that women only wanted money. These ideas are completely real for the young rapper. Each persons ideas are unquestionably true to them; most ideas are incapable of being proven true or falsethey just are (Chapter 3). Ideas, however they are obtained, are constantly undergoing modification: deepened, strengthened, widened, narrowed, weakened, etc. (Chapter 3). Another commonality to the human experience is the universal theme of truth. Humans seek to find truth to explain and make sense of life. Truth can be obtained in a variety of ways and can take a variety of forms. Life is full of trying experiences and humans try to normalize these experiences through truth. It is a universal ability of human beings to accept true ideas

Baxter 3 about the nature of life and the world, including scientific ideas, that simply cannot be known to be true on the basis of empirical, scientific reasoning or any other measuring rod of the modern and post-modern worlds (Chapter 8). Truth is not necessarily a matter of fact or fiction; truth is composed of those ideas that humans personally hold to be true (Chapter 8). By applying truth, things going on around a person can be explained and subsequently create not chaos but order (Chapter 8). If people hold a certain belief, they will read it into the universe and find evidence of it (Chapter 8). Religion is a very common form of truthin fact no human being lives without it (Chapter 8). Since our ideasthose things held to be true, often cannot be supported by concrete evidence, humans must rely on faith that those ideas are in fact true. Religion is comprised of those ideas about the nature of the world, human life, and how one ought to live, and our individual and collective participation in those ideas (Chapter 8). Religion is a form of truth that is used to explain life experiences that may seem puzzling or unexpected. Religion includes diverse topics such as healing, jealousy, accounting for undeserved misfortunes, maintaining peace, determining root causes, assessing what the world is really like, etc. (Chapter 8). In the film Young and Restless in China, a young man converted to the Christian religion in his early twenties. The principles and teachings of his religion explained and gave order to his complex life. It is also guided his actions in his work and personal life. The pattern by which truth is obtained is fairly standard. The process occurs when a discussion or problem or experience provokes one to give thought to some matter (Crandall). In an article titled The Worst Mistake in History of the Human Race, author Jared Dimond argues that the change from a hunter-gatherer approach to an agriculture based living approach is a catastrophe from which the world has never recovered (Dimond). Dimonds research is an example of the universal human ability to find truth to explain puzzling situations. Dimond saw

Baxter 4 the problems that face much of the world today and attributed those problems to the development of agriculture. He found evidence that agriculture was to blame for much of the disease, class divisions, and sexual inequality seen in the world today. He found truth to explain the things going on around him. Similarly, the Himba found truth in the practice of omitia way to explain unfortunate circumstances (Crandall, 39). Truth and its ability to bring order to life is a universal theme among human beings. Adapting to changing circumstances is another universal theme in the human experience. Life is never a static thing; life has ups and downs on a regular basis. The ability of a person to adapt to changing environments and circumstances is absolutely essential to survival. On a larger scale, in order for any society to survive and flourish, it must devise the technologies and the skills for producing food from the local environment (Chapter 7). Human beings must also learn to adapt to cold climates, hot climates, and everything in between (Chapter 7). In the film Power of the Poor, poverty stricken farmers in the outer regions of Peru adapted to difficult circumstances in the agricultural business by moving to the city to open more prosperous businesses. By doing so they were able to keep a sufficient supply of food and other necessities that would have been difficult to get otherwise. Similarly, the film Guns, Germs, and Steel demonstrates the ability of humans to survive by adaptation. The land of Papua New Guinea is not compatible with the cultivation of many critical plants such as wheat or barley. Instead, the people hunt and gather for food (Guns, Germs, and Steel). While this method may not provide the most variety or nutrition, it provides the people with adequate calories to survive. Farmers across American have also had to adapt in order to sustain a productive environment. Recent research has shown that the age old practice of tilling the soil before planting is very detrimental to the environment. According to the article, tillage is a root cause of agricultural

Baxter 5 land degradationone of the most serious environmental problems worldwide (Reganold, Huggins). Many farmers have taken measures to reduce these problems by practicing the more sustainable method of no-till cultivation. Adapting to changing circumstances is a clear commonality to the human experience. Another universal theme to the human experiences is the interweaving of lives. Humans interact with each other on a daily basis. Relationships with others is a central focus of life family, friends, co-workers, etc. Although many would like to live without the consequences of others actions, it is simply not possible. Humans lives are interrelated in a variety of ways. Since human beings are given agency to act as they please, people are often left to the mercy of others actionswhether they are good or bad. An article recalling the story of a woman attacked by an aggressive attacker illustrates the negative effects people have on others. The woman was getting into her car when a man attacked her with a knife. The woman, nearly helpless, called out for help. Luckily, a fellow co-worker who was also leaving work came to her aid (Rosellini). The woman was negatively affected by the actions of another person. In another instance, a woman was positively affected by the actions of another person. She was driving a trailer across a train track when her vehicle became stuck. A train was fast approaching and if the vehicle wasnt moved, the train would be derailed and the passengers put in serious danger. Luckily, a man stopped to help the woman and was able to move the vehicle in time (Free). In both situations, the lives of humans were dependent on the actions of other people. The film Is Walmart Good for America? also demonstrates how deeply human lives are connected. The actions of the Walmart Corporation greatly affect other businesses and the lives of its employees. Because of Walmarts devotion to low prices, many companies were forced to lay off employees in order to compete with Walmarts prices (Is Walmart good for America?). Among the

Baxter 6 Bushmen, the livelihood of one young man was dependent on the hunting ability of another because the young man could not hunt (Marshall, 165). The interweaving of lives is no doubt a common theme in the human experience. Similarities in the universal experience occur because human beings live in the same world. Regardless of any other factors, the human population, for the most part, pursues the same course of action in life. While human beings are undoubtedly unique, the world poses the same challenges for every human beingsurviving harsh circumstances and finding happiness. A universal difference in the human experience is the differing social expectations expected of each person in a society. In every society, members have pre-determined roles that they are expected to fulfillwhether they are explicitly stated or found in unspoken law. In every country and society, positive and negative social sanctions exist to maintain order (Chapter 6). A positive sanction is a reward for following social norms and a negative sanction is a punishment for having breached social norms (Chapter 6). Social expectations and sanctions differ for each individual in every society. An article discussing the cultural custom of headhunting in the Ilongot society illustrates the distinct differences in social norms and expectations. In the Ilongot society, young males are allowed to take the head of another man in order to enter manhood. Not only is this practice allowed by tribal sanctions, it is highly encouraged (Headhunting). In many societies across the world, this practice would be considered murder and would be severely punished. Another example of differing social expectations occurs in the Bushmen and Himba societies. In Bushmen society, men are expected to be skilled hunters (Marshall, 34). Hunting affects so many aspects of Bushmen society that if a man cannot hunt, his life will be negatively affected. In contrast, a man in Himba society is expected to herd cattle for a living; an ability to hunt is not nearly as critical (Crandall, 18). Gender role is another social

Baxter 7 expectation that differs in societies. Gender is defined as the particular social role, characteristics, or persona any given society ascribes to being male or female (Chapter 5). Much anthropological theory indicates that gender roles are a matter of nurture, not nature which suggests that gender roles are cultural creations (Chapter 5). It has been shown through various studies that there is a fair degree of latitude cross-culturally in what constitutes proper masculinity and femininity (Chapter 5). Among the Tchambuli people, men dedicated far more time to grooming and appearance than their wives and women, on the other hand, were aggressive in their function as food providers (Chapter 5). These gender roles appear to be opposite to those of many American and European societies. In a German prisoner of war camp, differing social expectations occurred for the guards of each camp (Hoess). Social expectations and norms differ in every society. Each individual is placed with certain responsibilities and roles depending on their position in society. Family obligations and dynamics also differ in the human experience. Family relationships can be very different depending on cultural practices and traditions. While every human being in the world is linked biologically to other human beings, the relationships within those bonds will differ greatly. Kinship roles in families govern a large part of what humans do. In a society, we know what it is expected of us and try to keep pace with expectations (Chapter 4). In an article discussing marriages in Japan, it was revealed that the divorce rate in Japan is less than half of that in the United States. The article goes on to suggest that the reason Japanese marriages are so stable is not because husbands and wives love each other more than American couples, but rather because they perhaps love each other less (Kristof). The strength of the Japanese family is found in low expectations, patience, and shame (Kristof). This family set-up greatly differs from that of many other societies where love is the primary foundation for

Baxter 8 marriage and family. The expectation in Japan is that husband and wife make the marriage work regardless of personal feeling. Family communication also differs in families, cultures, and societies. Communication can become a minefield depending on the experiences of each family member (Tannen). Another universal difference among human beings is the definition of beauty. Among societies and individuals, what constitutes beauty varies greatly. Among the Himba, a woman must cover herself completely with a powdered red dust mixture, ojitze, in order to meet societal beauty standards. Both men and women view the red tinted skin that results as very beautiful. In Bushmen culture, women wear unique jewelry made from ostrich egg shells and other rarities. This type of adornment is very critical for Bushmen women to look and feel beautiful. Among Nigerian culture, beauty is in the weight (Simmons). There is no set standard of weight, but the unwritten rule is the bigger the better (Simmons). In order to achieve this level of beauty, Nigerian teenage girls spend months in a traditional fattening room to put on weight. This fattening room is at the center of a centuries-old rite of passage from maidenhood to womanhood (Simmons). While this process is monotonous and time consuming, parents and family members of the young girls want them to be attractive so they will be able to marry. In contrast, western societys definition of beauty typically includes a thin figure with minimal fat. Girls will often spend just as much time and energy into getting skinny as Nigerian girls will put into getting fat. The difference in what constitutes beauty is striking. Major transitions in life will differ greatly among individuals and societies. Coming of age transitions and other life changes will be unique to each culture and people. For the Bushmen, young men must shoot a buck to be initiated in to manhood (Marshall, 128). For the Himba, young women must receive their menstrual period in order to be considered a woman

Baxter 9 (Crandall, 136). During the Edwardian Era in England, many of the manor house servants transitioned to a different style of life in the Americas (The Manor House). Similarly, activists looking for sustainability in the food market transitioned to different forms of food production including self-cultivation (Food in America). During the computer era, inventors like Steve Jobs and Bill gates transitioned from small scale businesses to large billion dollar industries (Triumph of the Nerds). During the industrial revolution, countries such as France underwent the modern transformation of life with industrialized production, the mechanism of farming, and so forth (Chapter 1). Transitions are universal to the human experiences. Transitions will vary from country to individual to culture. Major differences among the human experience occur because the experiences of every individual will vary. While the environment of the world poses similar challenges for every human being, the individual experiences of those human beings with their world will be unique in every way. These experiences will shape beliefs, thought patterns, and behavior. It is clear that human beings share some very important aspects in the human experience, but the human experience also differs in many ways. The process of ideas changing, finding truth, adapting to circumstances, and interrelating between peoples are similarities in the human experience. Differing social expectations, family obligations, definitions of beauty, and transitions in life are universal differences in the human experience. Similarities occur because the world in which humans live produces a similar environment; differences occur because the experiences of every individual with that environment will vary greatly. In the end, it is most beneficial to focus on the similarities between human beings and the human experience. Understanding universal similarities would help to break down cultural and social barriers that separate peoples across the world. Differences are undoubtedly important to understand, but they

Baxter 10 likely draw people apart if focused upon. By understanding how human beings are similar, peace can be promoted and cultures and countries united

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Works Cited Crandall, David P. "Knowing human moral knowledge to be true: an essay on intellectual conviction". The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 10, Num 2, 2004, pp 307326. Crandall, David P. The Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees: A Year in the Lives of the Cattle-herding Himba of Namibia. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print. Crandall, David. A Short Introduction to Anthropology. Provo: Brigham Young University, Print. Diamond, Jared. The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. Discover Magazine. May 1987. Print. Food in America. Film. Free, Cathy. Trapped on the Tracks. Readers Digest n. page. Web. 11 December 2013. Guns, Germs and Steel. Film Headhunting. n. page. Web. 11 December 2013. Hoess, Rudolf. Commandant of Auschwitz. New York: The World Publishing Company. Print. Is Wal-Mart Good for America?. Film. Kristof, Nicholas D. Who Needs Love! In Japan, Many Couples Dont. New York Times, February 11, 1996. pp. 1, 12. Web. 11 December 2013. Power of the Poor. Film. Regenold, John P., and David R. Huggins. No Till: How Farmers are Saving the Soil by Parking Their Plows. Scientific American. 30 Jun 2008: n. page. Web 11 December 2013.

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Rosellini, Lynn. Slasher Attack. Readers Digest n. page. Web. 11 December 2013. Sick Around the World. Film. Simmons, Ann M. "Where Fat is a Mark of Beauty." Los Angeles Times, September 30, 1998. Web. 11 December 2013. Tannen, Deborah. "I Can't Even Open My Mouth." I Only Say this Because I Love You, pp. 328. Random House, Inc: 2001. Web. 11 December 2013. The Manor House. Film. Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall. The Harmless People. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print. Triumph of the Nerds. Film. Young and Restless in China. Film.